By Amar Yumnam
The inimitable Charles Dickens once said: “When a man bleeds inwardly, it is a dangerous thing for himself; but when he laughs inwardly, it bodes no good to other people.” The recent unfolding drama of 2G scam involving two important ministers does remind us of this great dictum but in a very poor light. Indeed the government at the centre has been bleeding under the impact of the latest note of the Finance Ministry hinting at lapses of the person now in charge of Home Affairs while he was heading the Finance Ministry. The latest clarification by the current Finance Minister is nothing but an attempt by the Central Government to laugh inwardly by befooling the people. But we must say loudly that it has failed terribly at that. But even this failure to convince the people “bode no good” for the great masses of this ‘democracy’.
Many Questions: The current Finance Minister says that the inferences and implications of the note of his ministry were not his opinion. Now we may immediately ask if this is how we the people of this big country are being governed. Unfortunately, if his statement were to be taken on face value, there is every implication that this is the way we are being governed. There is every possibility, the manner in which the drama is getting unfolded, that tomorrow he may come out with another statement that he did not imply what is being implied by his latest statement. We now have a government at the Centre formed by elected representatives where presumably the bureaucrats enjoy the liberty of circulating and sending notes on important matters and with significant implications without the needed approval of the Minister in charge of the ministry. Oh! It is a very scary scenario where there is absence of communication and coordination between the ministers and the bureaucrats.
Further, let us look at the drama from another angle. We are not convinced by the explanation of the current Finance Minister on the note of his ministry. No, we are not convinced at all. If the contents and implications did not enjoy his endorsement, why is it that he took so long and needed so many persuasions to clear the air caused by the note originating from his ministry. Now that the note has definitely cast a negative image of the government in which he is a minister himself, has he tried to initiate appropriate action on the bureaucrats involved in his ministry to account for the big embarrassment to the government?
Still further it has to be questioned as to how the Ministers are empowered to announce “the matter as closed” when the issues involved relate to propriety, justice, accountability and commitment of the persons in charge of important country portfolios. Besides, these are issues on which the confidence of the head of the people leading the government alone would not serve the purpose because the leader would be committing an anti-democratic crime of placing an individual of dubious involvement in charge of important country matters.
Role of Central Government: In a federal structure like India’s, there are important roles and functions to be performed by both the Central and the State governments. But we must say that there are some areas where the role of the Centre is much more paramount than that of the States. As I have been emphasising in this column and elsewhere, India still has a long way to go to become a strong nation from the present one of a big country. The Central government has the highest responsibility of nurturing this nation-building process. The fact, however, is that such a process can be put in place only by a credible government at the centre. The present mess in the government in the centre does by no means serve this purpose.
There could be many instances when people in the States lose hope on the credibility, and people and development orientation of their provincial governments. But they can and would still hang on if they are convinced of the credibility and people and development orientation of the government at the Centre. In other words, the government at the centre is the government of last resort of the people everywhere in the country. The case could be different to some extent in States like Gujarat and Tripura where the State government are performing wonderfully well even if the Central Government is now sucked into corruption scandals. But all the States are not as lucky as these two are. Imagine the fate of the people where the State governments have failed to live up to any expectation of the people and cannot fire the imagination of the population on any aspect. Naturally these population do look up to the centre for moving towards the expected development outcomes and indulge in their daily toil hoping the centre
would sooner or later come to their rescue. But they are now caught in a double-bind in which the State governments are of little use if any performing anything else other than governance, and the Central Government does not command credibility and hope. One can lookup to the Central Government when the respective State Government fails to deliver, but where do we look up when the Central Government is like the one we have right now.
The country now passes through a very risky stage when anything would be penalised or tolerated depending upon the position one is placed, and the nation-building process has been put in the cold. The time is now when the people should save the perceived nation from the country’s government.